Speed Reads

Trump-Russia

Republicans are winding down their Russia probes without tackling the big question

The chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees say they plan to wind down their respective investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by next February, before campaigning for midterm elections kicks off, and they don't sound convinced they will have reached a verdict on whether President Trump's team colluded with Moscow to win, Politico reports. This leaves Democrats with "a wrenching choice," Politico adds:

The painful choice for Democrats is whether to attempt to forge a fragile compromise with Republicans that depicts what both parties generally agree on: that Russia orchestrated a massive interference campaign to undermine U.S. politics and stoke intense division. That would likely mean abandoning a definitive determination on collusion — or punting to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who's leading a criminal probe of possible crimes connected to the Russian plot. [Politico]

Republicans have that covered, too, Politico reports separately, with several conservatives and Trump allies "setting up a fight over how much the [Mueller] probe is costing taxpayers — and the fact that there's no end in sight." Congress doesn't actually have direct control over Mueller's budget, but they will get spending reports every six months and will likely try to make political hay out of the costs.

Some Republicans on the intelligence committees say they have seen no concrete evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, while Democrats point to compelling evidence of intent to collude and say the investigation isn't complete. "If there’s evidence that there was something there, that will be laid out," said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says. "If there's no evidence, how could anybody object to it?" We may find out.